financial priorities-chart
Credit: Cathy Mullaly

After years of low interest rates and increasingly high housing prices, Canadians have some of the highest household debt in the world. What is your top financial priority for 2017?

Mustel Group asked people across B.C. what they plan to do with their money this year

Last November Mustel Group conducted a provincewide telephone poll for BCBusiness, asking 500 people what they plan to do with their money in 2017.

Overall the top choices were fairly evenly split between reducing debt (24.3 per cent) and saving for retirement (22.3 per cent), but analysing the responses by demographic groups showed different financial priorities for men and women. Men were more interested than women in investing (23.1 per cent versus 14.1 per cent), while more women planned to reduce debt (28.5 per cent versus 19.7 per cent).

Age also affected priorities. Millennials are primarily interested in reducing debt and spending less, says Evi Mustel, principal of the Mustel Group. “It could speak to the affordability of housing as well as just general living—certainly in Metro Vancouver,” she says. “That sort of middle group, 35-54, they’re thinking about reducing debt as well as saving for retirement, whereas once you get into the 55 plus, they’re more interested in saving for retirement.” Here’s how each group responded to the questions:

Reduce debt: 24.5% (18-34), 31.1% (35-55), 17% (55+)

Save for retirement: 14.3% (18-34), 26% (34-55), 24.6% (55+)

Invest more: 22.6% (18-34), 19.6% (35-55), 14.5% (55+)

Spend less: 23.4% (18-34), 12.5% (35-55), 15.4% (55+)

Don’t know: 2.3% (18-34), 2.4% (35-55), 8.5% (55+)

Other: 13% (18-34), 8.4% (35-55), 20% (55+)

The “other” responses were ones that didn’t fit the main categories, ranging from some who simply answered “Survive,” “Stay the same” or “Pay off student loan” to “Travel,” “Play more golf” or “Invest in pure-bred livestock in Prince George.”